The road safety and mobility institute Vias has provoked protests from pedestrian representatives over a new campaign calling for more politeness on the roads.
To be specific, the campaign suggests good manners on the roads means pedestrians giving a sign of thanks when drivers stop to let them cross – something which is an obligation in law.
The advertisement (above) shows an older gentlemen who says, “In my opinion, it should be obligatory to smile or raise a hand if someone lets you cross the road.” It also tags the website of the Vias campaign for more polite behaviour.
The new campaign comes just days after Vias produced its own research which shows that 77% of pedestrians already do acknowledge a driver’s stopping with a wave of the hand or a thumbs-up, with one in three giving a nod of the head in thanks – without a campaign to make it an obligation.
On the other hand, only 57% of drivers make a gesture to signal to pedestrians that they may cross, while 28% make eye contact and a head movement– or think they do, since such gestures may not be seen through a windscreen.
The pedestrian organisation responded on Twitter.
A Belgian institute claiming to work on #RoadSafety starts a campaign suggesting to increase road safety by having pedestrians say thank you when a driver yields for them. Medieval…. @UNRSC @IFPedestrians #surrealism https://t.co/ewuPeZBdBD
— johanna.be (@johanna_dot_be) August 21, 2021
“Aren’t you ashamed?” VUB professor Geert Vandermeersche responded, also on Twitter. “Allowing a pedestrian to cross on a zebra crossing is in the highway code. That this is your conclusion immediately shows a bias and lack of critical analysis of traffic situations.”
Vias’ own research shows that only 54% say they always stop for a pedestrian on a crossing, with 42% claiming they ‘usually’ do without further explanation.
Fully 84% said they knew they have by law to give way to a pedestrian, but 31% were not aware the law also obliges them to moderate their speed on approaching a crossing.
Finally, 57% of pedestrians involved in an accident were on a crossing without controlling lights at the time.
“There is so much to be done for pedestrian safety and now Vias is launching the idea of improving it by thanking car drivers when they do what they have to do,” Geert van Waeg of Johanna told Bruzz.
“A car has to stop at a zebra crossing and I thank them myself, but to make it obligatory is madness.”